The Secret of Nightingale Wood

by Lucy Strange

Publication Date: October 31,2017

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1919. Henry has moved to the countryside with her parents and her baby sister, Piglet – all still scarred by the death of her brother. Alone in her head, she begins to explore her surroundings, encouraged by her only friends – characters from her favourite books. Nobody much notices when she wanders into the woods at the bottom of the garden and meets Moth, a striking witch-like woman. Together they form a bond that could help Henry save her family.

This book turned out to be nothing like I expected. I was expecting a sweet little fairy tale like book. Don’t get me wrong it is a sweet fairy tale like book but it is also so much more. What I read was a sad haunting book  that will stay with me. I loved every minute of this and wish I didn’t reading it all in one setting, I didn’t want it to end. Henry (Henrietta) was such a strong spunky girl who just wanted her family back to the way it was before the accident. Henry is lonely and has a very active imagination and curiosity. She ask questions, ones the adults don’t want to answer and think she is too young to understand or should be asking. Henry is a big believer in books and fairy tales, all my favorite children’s classics were mentioned through out this lovely book. She meets a “witch” in the woods, just like the books she reads. However Moth isn’t a witch at all just a sad grieving woman who befriends Henry and believes in her when no one else does. The two end up being just what each other needs to help them start healing from the past.  The Abbott family has a long road to travel before they are all better but if they can get back together as a family they just might make it after all. This book tackles many issues from grief, family drama, wartime England, Hope and finding ones true self and voice in the face of despair. This book is for ages 10+ but I really think it will capture readers of all ages. This will be my number 1 book for 2017.  I just can’t imagine reading anything I will enjoy more this year than The Secret of Nightingale Wood!

Thank you so very much Chicken House books and Scholastic for sending me this amazing book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free copy of The Secret of Nightingale Wood.

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I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

by Erika L Sanchez

 

 

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family. But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role. 

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed. But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?

This story started off with me not liking Julia at all. I can get her attitude after everything that has happened except she was this abrasive before the accident. She had the biggest chip on her shoulder and was going to make sure to make everyone around her as miserable as she is.  Then the book started to develop a little more and I was starting to understand Julia, her family and the heartache they are going through. Personally I don’t like to read and usually don’t finish books where a child dies. They are just to hard and a mom’s worse nightmare. While this wasn’t a favorite book of mine I think I just might not have been the best reader for this one.  I just got done reading a book where the family unravels after the older sister dies unexpectedly so very similar in plots. So maybe it was just a little to familiar, even though they were very different in characters and writing styles. I liked that it had a very diverse cast of characters. I liked how the author depicted mental illness and how people grieve differently when a loved one passes away. I’m glad I read I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. I will say this is a pretty dark contemporary YA novel and not one I would like my middle grade reader read. So many YA’s are ok for middle grade readers as well, this is not one. It has some pretty tough  to understand issues that the younger reader would not understand .  I say give it a chance start reading this, it might just capture you and keep you reading.

Thank you Knopf  Books for Young Readers for sending me a copy of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

The Breathless

by Tara Goedjn

 

 

No one knows what really happened on the beach where Roxanne Cole’s body was found, but her boyfriend, Cage, took off that night and hasn’t been seen since. Until now. One year—almost to the day—from Ro’s death, when he knocks on the door of Blue Gate Manor and asks where she is.

Cage has no memory of the past twelve months. According to him, Ro was alive only the day before. Ro’s sister Mae wouldn’t believe him, except that something’s not right. Nothing’s been right in the house since Ro died.

And then Mae finds the little green book. The one hidden in Ro’s room. It’s filled with secrets—dangerous secrets—about her family, and about Ro. And if what it says is true, then maybe, just maybe, Ro isn’t lost forever.

And maybe there are secrets better left to the dead

The Breathless is a gothic book I wouldn’t call it horror but it has that spooky mystery undertone to it. It was an OK  book for my YA reader and I.  The book just didn’t hold it in the creepy spooky category for us. Maybe its the fact that I read a lot of these types of books on my own in the past and even to this day. For me I just didn’t click with the book or characters. I did loan it to a friend who doesn’t like real creepy books and she said it was scary for her. So I’m thinking The Breathless would be the perfect book for readers looking to decide if this type of genre is their cup of tea. I think I was expected something different when I started reading it. Overall I think this is a hard one to rate because some will love it and some won’t and it really just depends on what your definition of creepy scary is.

Thank you Delcorte Press for sending me a copy of  The Breathless. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book. 

Protected

by Claire Zorn

Publication Date: October 3, 2017

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Opening Line: I have three months left to call Katie my older sister. Then the gap will close and I will pass her. I will get older. But Katie will always be fifteen, eleven months and twenty-one days old. 

This book takes place in Australia and has won many awards there. Protected is the winner of the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction, Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction as well as CBCA Book of the Year for Older Readers. I am so happy this book has won awards for it story and writing. I’m even more happy that it is finally be published in America so we get the chance to read this book that will touch the reader and give you many ranges of emotions as you read.

 

 

 

About the book: Hannah’s world is in pieces and she doesn’t need the school counselor to tell her she has deep-seated psychological issues. With a seriously depressed mum, an injured dad and a dead sister, who wouldn’t have problems?   Hannah should feel terrible but for the first time in ages, she feels a glimmer of hope and isn’t afraid anymore. Is it because the elusive Josh is taking an interest in her? Or does it run deeper than that?   In a family torn apart by grief and guilt, one girl’s struggle to come to terms with years of torment shows just how long old wounds can take to heal.

 

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of books where a sibling passes away. These subjects are so hard to read.  I know for some it really helps them to process it all and understand that they are not alone when there are books that touch the subject. This book was so heartbreaking plan to have tissues nearby. Protected tackles bullying and I mean extreme horrible bullying. If that wasn’t enough to make you have so many ranges of emotion it also tackles the death of Hannah’s big sister. Hannah and her sister Katie were similar to my sister and I. We loved each other but really didn’t click. I know she feels like she got stuck with me a lot of times. I always got the feeling that Katie felt that way as well. Hannah and Katie had their differences but Katie did nothing when the mean kids also known as the popular kids were tormenting Hannah. This is where my sister was different she was always my best cheerleader and protector. Katie could have stopped it but Katie was wrapped up in her own world and I think she felt if she told them to stop she wouldn’t be in their group anymore and for her that was just not an option. Then something beyond tragic happens and the ironic thing is the mean kids no longer torment Hannah. Hannah really didn’t need them to torment her anymore she was going through a grief so unbearable that just day to day life tormented her and her family.

The families grief was very realistic and written very well. I could imagine myself being that mom that just didn’t want to face the days after the accident. She wanted to numb herself with pills and sleep. Maybe if she didn’t face the days she wouldn’t have to feel. The dad had his own grief in the fact that he was the driver, he was injured and dealing with day to day healing and pain from his injuries as well as unanswered questions. This means Hannah was left on her own to do deal with everything that happened and has happened to her leading up to this fateful day that changed everyone’s life in the family. Hannah finally finds someone who not only accepts her for who she is, he also didn’t know her before. He is her rock and someone she needs to finally accept everything and process it. Add an amazing school counselor who helps the healing process and doesn’t pass judgments she just listens which is what Hannah needs so much since her home life is where no one is listening or talking.

Protected by Claire Zorn  is a heavy book with topics to tackle. Claire Zorn did an amazing job and didn’t drop the ball at all. She tackles the death of a child, and school bullying full one and holds back no punches. I felt it was very realistic in what Hannah and her family were experiencing. This one will upset the reader but sometimes we need to read those books that push the buttons and makes you feel things you don’t want to. This is one I hope schools buy since I know it will talk to some readers and help them process things and know that  they are not alone.

Thank you so very much Sourcebooks Fire for sending me a copy of Protected by Claire Zorn. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

The Stars Beneath Our Feet

by David Barclay Moore

 

 

 

A boy tries to steer a safe path through the projects in Harlem in the wake of his brother’s death.

It’s Christmas Eve in Harlem, but twelve-year-old Lolly Rachpaul and his mom aren’t celebrating. They’re still reeling from his older brother’s death in a gang-related shooting just a few months earlier. Then Lolly’s mother’s girlfriend brings him a gift that will change everything: two enormous bags filled with Legos. Lolly’s always loved Legos, and he prides himself on following the kit instructions exactly. Now, faced with a pile of building blocks and no instructions, Lolly must find his own way forward. 


His path isn’t clear–and the pressure to join a “crew,” as his brother did, is always there. When Lolly and his friend are beaten up and robbed, joining a crew almost seems like the safe choice. But building a fantastical Lego city at the community center provides Lolly with an escape–and an unexpected bridge back to the world.

I’m not sure how to review this one. The Stars Beneath Our Feet was such a hard read, not in a bad way. It was a very emotional book and the reader really feels for Lolly and all he is going through. I can’t even imagine how most 12 year old’s would process losing a sibling. The grief process and his interactions seemed real to me.  I really think that for some this book will really touch them and stay with them. It was a little harsh to read  at times and made me really uncomfortable. I think that is what the author was going for?  I will say there is some language in there that might upset some readers, I know it did for me.  However sometimes those are the ones that really get people talking and discussing issues that need to be on the table. Overall it was a good book on topics and subjects I haven’t read many books about and not sure if there are many like this in the middle grade reader genre. I know there are many in the YA genre so I’m glad there a book for middle grade. That being said I could see this crossing over and some YA readers liking this book as well. While the main character is 12 it didn’t read as a young middle grade.  I think that this will be a very buzzed about book and up for many awards. I’m glad I was able to read it.

Thank you Alfred A Knopf Books for Young Readers for sending me a copy of The Stars Beneath Our Feet. All thoughts and opinions are our own and not influenced by the free book.

Ruthless

by Carolyn Lee Adams

 

 

 

 

When Ruth is kidnapped, she’s determined not to become this serial-killer’s next trophy. After she’s able to escape, her captor begins stalking her through the wilderness.

 

 

 

Ruthless is one that I’ve had on my shelf for a while but hadn’t picked up till yesterday. I started to read and then I couldn’t stop. This was such a non stop action game of cat and mouse, that now I’m wondering what took me so long to read it!? If you are looking for a creepy fast read than grab a copy of Ruthless from your local library or bookstore.  Ruth aka: Ruthless is a very driven girl who show’s horses. She isn’t out to make lots of friends she is out to win. She has had to grow up fast with the family she has and that has shaped her into who she is now.  She doesn’t stop till she gets what she wants even if it means stepping on toes and sounding ruthless. She isn’t a popular girl and only has a few friends. Even they get the rough side treatment from Ruth from time to time. I really think she is scared to let people in, scared of getting hurt, but that just might be my thinking. Ruth’s world changes and her drive is what will help her in the end. She is kidnapped by a serial killer and she isn’t going down with out a fight. Her abductor has met his match. Ruthless  is not only character driven and told from Ruth’s point of view but also very plot driven. The whole book takes place in the time frame of her abduction. I never really got a sense of how long she was taken but I think it was at least a week maybe a little less but more than a day or two. The author does an excellent job at placing you in the cabin and woods. I could visualize what I was reading and felt like I was there or watching it on the screen. This by the way would make a great tv movie. What I liked most about Ruthless was Ruth. I know she was not such a nice girl but we really didn’t get to see that since this takes place only in the present. The author does give us flashback glimpses into the serial killer abductors life to get an understanding of how and why he is like that. For me it didn’t make me feel bad for him. He was a mean, cruel, twisted guy that preyed on little girls. So I didn’t really like those parts. I did find the short time leading up to him taking Ruth more relevant since it let you see how he stalked and gathered information on her. That part was very creepy, and made my skin crawl.  I think the flashbacks of him leading up to taking Ruth were important but everything else I could have done with out.  This is a YA but not one I’d let my middle grade reader read at this time. I really think the content is mature and for me a YA high school level read.

Thirteen Rising

by Romina Russell

Zodiac Series book 4

Thirteen Rising is the final installment in the wonderfully entertaining Zodiac series. I have loved this series and it is a series I will re-read now and again. The stories capture you and take you to a whole new world and the covers are so beautiful. This summer was a lot of fun doing the Zodiac Summer Read A Thon with my girls leading up to Thirteen Rising. If you haven’t read this series yet now is your chance. All four books are out as of today so grab them and binge read them this fall. They would also make a wonderful holiday gift for any middle grade or YA reading teen. Today I’m diving into the Zodiac world and can’t wait to see what is in store.

About the Book: Romina Russell’s epic sci-fi fantasy series reaches its breathtaking conclusion with this fourth and final novel.

The master has been unmasked. Rho’s world has been turned upside down. With her loved ones in peril and all the stars set against her, can the young Guardian from House Cancer muster the strength to keep fighting? Or has she finally found her match in a master whose ambition to rule knows no limits?

Thank you Penguin Young Readers for sending us the Zodiac Series. We have loved and enjoyed the Summer 2017 Read A Thon so much. All thoughts and opinions are our own and are not influenced by the free books.